My God, the ogre in the sky (Bryan Chapell)

Yesterday I mentioned about my inability to live like I'm under grace. Part of what reminded me about my ineptitude is a book I'm reading for a preaching class I have.

Christ Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (second edition), by Bryan Chapell.*

First I have to say this book started out boring as dirt and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through. About half-way through I started to think it was a bit more interesting and then the entire last section is absolutely gripping. I would suggest it to any preacher.

Anyhow, on page 293 Chapell is talking about how we need to bring themes of redemption into our preaching. He mentions at one point about how he realized he had been teaching works/guilt based theology without even knowing it for months on end. Then this is what he says,

"The warping of faith and preaching occurs, however, with the belief that disciplines ward off God's ire or buy his favor. In such a case, the problem is not the biblical discipline we practice but the type of God we perceive."

And then my favorite line,

"He becomes the ogre in the sky who requires the daily satisfaction of our toil to dispense his favor or restrain his displeasure"

This is so who I am. Walking around everyday believing God to be a God of grace, but living like he is an ogre in the sky and will not continue to give his grace unless I have a longer quiet time every morning, or pray better.

That said, I need to go have a decent time of prayer this morning. But I just want you to think about the kind of God you perceive.

*ISBN: 978-0-8010-2798-7

Grace, my inability to accept it (Hebrews 4:16)

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:16

I realized today how much I live my life without this grace. I know about grace. I believe in grace. But I live like I am the creator of my own salvation. I live like I alone can bail myself out of my sin.

But the Lord offers mercy; grace in my time of need. Instead I look to my own strength to solve my problems, and determine to "do better next time." I awake and think these things would go away if my quiet times were longer. If only I focused more on the scripture.

I've forgotten Hudson Taylor's reminders of constant abiding in the Lord. I don't have to work at it to be a citizen of the Kingdom, loved and looked out for by the King. I am a citizen, and now nothing I can do will change that.

I do have the opportunity to fight for the King (see this morning's post about being a violent man). And I should see it as a privilege in the same way I would love to play for the Denver Broncos. Except I'm already on this team. Fighting for this side. And I just keep running to the corner, thinking the Lord wont let me on the starting team unless I kiss up. But he's counted me worthy.

Lord I desire grace, to recognize your grace, to live your grace, to accept your grace, to rejoice in your grace.

How I long to be a violent man (Matthew 11:12)

"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force." - Matthew 11:12

Or, the kingdom of heaven forcefully advancing and forceful men take hold of it.

This is such a great verse just because it's so strange. But the more I read it, the clearer to me it becomes that I am called to be a violent man taking hold the kingdom of heaven.

If this really is THE battle for the kingdom, through powers and such that we cannot see, then how passive of a role am I playing? Every time I come across this verse I'm reminded just how weak my prayer life is, and how forceful it should be. I want to be a violent man, a forceful man, I want the Lord's enemies to be freaked out when I enter into battle with them.

To be so, I have to be a forceful man. A violent man. What does a violent man for the Lord look like? I suppose a person who gives, to churches, to missionaries, and then prays his head off for them to succeed. Prays for people, cities, countries, and the world to be saved. Prays for men and women and to turn to the Lord and for the powers of darkness to fail.

I want to pray like that. Nothing less than the world, and salvation for all of it. If we really believe this stuff why aren't we in the battle? Why aren't we practicing fighting? Why aren't we growing stronger and stronger from battle after battle?

Wake us up to our wimpyness. Lord make us violent fighters taking hold of your kingdom by force.

Blood is life, atonement (Lev 17:11)

"But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." - Genesis 9:4

One time I was at a table with a bunch of people speaking a language I did not know, and eating food I was not familiar with. In order to be culturally acceptable I attempted to eat whatever was set before me and most of it was fine if you nibbled around the edges. But then there was this one dish served, it was red, sort of spongy looking.

Without thinking I had picked up a piece and was about to eat it before the guy sitting next to physically slapped it out of my hands. He laughed and told me, "that's blood tofu."

Ew.. I have also almost eaten congealed cow's blood once by accident, but was saved in a similar fashion.

There is something particularly disgusting to me about blood. I think it is more cultural than religious. We don't eat blood in America maybe because of our Biblical roots, but probably because it's just not part of our culture.

But to the Lord blood is significant. Extremely significant.

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." - Leviticus 17:11

It is blood that is the life of the flesh. It is blood that made atonement for he Israelites. And it is blood that has made atonement for us.

We are washed clean because blood is life, and life was shed for us.

I've no application for this, except that next time you bleed, maybe remember what it the Lord did for you. It's no little deal to bleed out your life.

Ends and patience - they're better? (Eccl 7:8)

"Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,
and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." - Ecc 7:8

I'm thinking seminary. Better is the end than its beginning. I'm also thinking being patient in learning is better than being proud.

However, I'm sure there are some things to which this wouldn't apply well. At first I was thinking marriage because that first year is so much fun, but the more I thought about it, the more I figure the longer you're married the better you know each other. It's a different kind of fun, but the patience and endurance in marriage brings about a new understanding and a wonderful love, different from the first, but better later on.

I'm sure the end of life is better than its beginning, though we all talk about how wonderful our youth is, to be an old man is one of my life dreams.

Patience is a virtue none of us like. I hate being patient while my baby cries. I hate being patient in lines. I even dislike patient people. But I suppose I don't need to say how much more enjoyable a patient person is than a proud person.

Application of this? Wait, be patient. Enjoy the end, and seek humility. Yea, small task huh?

Malachi's Axis of Evil (Mal 1:4)

"If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘[the axis of evil],’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.’”" - Malachi 1:4

If you take into account the modern land area this is a pretty fascinating verse, and I'm not one to read many passages literally. I'm not saying this one even should be. But was President Bush just fulfilling prophecy when he named it "The Axis of Evil"?

Granted they say Edom was in modern day Jordan which is not part of the Axis of Evil, but if the Edomites spread out and filled that area, it sure would make an interesting argument.

Here the words actually used are 'the wicket country' (in the ESV), but wow at the similarity.

Thoughts anyone?

Who is Senior le Roger?

Okay, so in my fervor to write and write and never let ya'll down with mostly original content, I realize that I've neglected on thing. A feeling of connectedness.

Many of you whom I read regularly are very good about sharing things from your personal life. So the question becomes, how do I - a pseudonymous blogger - share with you about a life which I must actually keep secret out of necessity?

Well I've decided that I will do a series where for the next few days or so (I may spread it out), I'll be sharing some wonderful, colorful, 'facts' about who Roger Mugs is. If you cannot know the real me, the least I can do is introduce you to the soon-to-be Legend of Roger Mugs. Most of this will likely be straight up lies, but much of it, in order for it to be interesting at all will have to be sprinkled with truth.

This means when I say I broke a urinal off a wall in sixth grade with my bare hands and then freaked out and ran away, this should be taken as true (it is after all), and is far too awesome for me to make up. Your response should be, "Wow Roger, that's crazy, you are awesome." However, if I say that I have a Computer Science degree from MIT your response should not be, "What color is the boathouse at MIT," because that would be a vague reference to Ronin, and you would know that I do not know.

Alright, well I figure I should start with the basics, and what I've shared about myself over at The Sieve and the Sand.

Roger Mugs - B.S. Endocrinology from Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. M.A. South East Asian Anthropology University of Northern South East Texas at Houston, and a Ph.D. in Edible Food Groups from Florida University Washington D.C. campus.

While in New York he helped start the “Bi-Ped’s for Surfers” club which included all races.

Recently he was appointed Poet Laureate of the state of Hawaii where he has lived for the past seven years with his two wives, eight children and four and half Irish Schnauzers. He has been published in three languages on eight continents and written at least two well known jingles for a popular peanut butter brand.

Roger began writing after a life altering experience with a shark and television set where fellow blogger RC Ribay may or may not have saved his life. He is considered an expert in sour candy.

So that's a start. If you have questions about the legend of Roger Mugs please feel free to ask.

Also, remember to take these things with a whole handful of grains of salt. Throw them over your shoulder, if you continue reading you'll need the good luck.

To the least of these. My day. (Matthew 25:40)

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" - Matthew 25:40

Today I had an experience with the least of these. On my drive home from a run to the grocery store just to buy donuts (yes, I do this regularly) I passed a car on the way home with a flat tire. I dropped my wife of at home just a few blocks away and went back to see if everything was okay.

The guy on the side of the street was a sweet guy although probably not quite all there mentally. But the Lord showed up in some cool ways and during our time together we were able to talk pretty closely about the Lord, and his relationship with Him. I was able to pray with him and generally, I think, be a blessing.

I love doing ministry like this, but I think today I was surprised at just how easy it was. Typically the things or people the Lord tugs me to talk to or pray for are very difficult for me. I want to be a blessing to them, I want to lay hands on them and pray, but its awkward or they're dirty or something.

But today was a new experience and I don't know what made it so. I do hope if he calls back because he needs more help in some way that I'll be willing and joyful to be helpful. I don't want it to ever be inconvenient to help someone out. I don't ever want to have "something better" to do. We'll see how that plays out in real life. For now I'm thankful for this experience. Thankful the Lord can still use me when I don't expect and that I'm useful for something.

I hope it was a blessing to the King.

Will man rob God? (Mal 3:8-10)

"Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you." - Malachi 3:8-9

I think I may have blogged about this perhaps a year or two ago, but in continuation of yesterday I'm remembering learning about tithing in a Sunday school at church. The man who was teaching was quite compelling, and a successful businessman. As I recall he was taking his team of salesmen to Las Vegas to celebrate a particularly profitable quarter.

Then after he was almost done sharing about tithing and the value for it, he mentioned, "I think it's a really good idea to tithe 10%, I don't tithe 10%, but I'd like to. 10% is a goal my wife and I have."

I was mortified, why was this the person chosen to teaching on giving if he wasn't giving? Are you stealing from God? "Will man rob God?"

"Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need." - 3:10

And in all our stupidity we presume to rob the Lord when He promises to open up heaven and pour down blessing. "Put me to the test," He says, and see if He won't fulfill His promise to give back.

Choosing not give generously is a financially and personally stupid choice.

Put the Lord to the test, and allow Him to give back. Watch as heaven rains down blessing.

On God supplying our every need. Even gas money (Philippians 4:19)

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:19

This is in Philippians immediately after Paul is thanking them for their gift (assumedly financial). I'm not sure why people are opposed to giving financially to churches or others (especially missionaries). Sometimes I suppose they have a disagreement with that person's employer, a theological difference perhaps. But giving is such a blessing, and it's a real shame to miss out on that for almost any reason at all.

Sometimes I wonder about this verse. It does seem to be saying we'll receive financial provision in exchange for giving financially doesn't it? Although most people would almost always argue against this idea. While I do think our motivation in giving should not be financial security, there seems to me to be a correlation.

Every time I have given, be it out of much or of little, the Lord has returned the favor. Not in a 1-1 sort of deal. And it's not always immediately obvious (sometimes I don't realize it for years). But I definitely find when I'm not giving, I never seem to have enough, and when I give and give I always have as much as I need.

The Lord provides.If you're giving generously, I think its acceptable to assume the Lord will be giving back, even if its not always how you'd think or want. The Lord has WAY more money than you'll ever understand, and just as much grace to back it up.

Thank you Lord for meeting every need of ours, and even occasionally our wants.

Sunday Scripture Day (Genesis 1, John 1)

Chew on this.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." - Gen 1:1-2

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:1-5

Being incompetent with my best friend. My God (Gal 4:8-9)

"Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?" - Galatians 4:8-9

Today I was contemplating my annoyingly constant struggle to stay in a close relationship with the Lord. I used to take pride in the fact that I had a quiet time everyday almost without fail. People have a hard time reading their Bible everyday, and I didn't, and I thought that made me pretty cool.

Maybe it did, but probably not. Now I focus more energy on trying to make those times valuable at all. All too often I see my quiet time as something to get through so I can get online and blog or something. Tisk tisk. And I've blogged on this a thousand times, and will probably continue to do so.

But today it occurred to me. Having a relationship with the Most High God and not spending meaningful time with Him is like...

Having breakfast with Frodo Baggin's everyday and not talking to him or asking him about his life.

It's like being friends with Bill Gates and him wanting to give you money but you refuse.

It's like having the basketball skills of Michael Jordan and choosing only to dribble around your backyard and never get on the court.

It's like knowing your creator who wants to spend time with you and being too incompetent to care.

(Insert your own analogy here).

Why am I like this? Help me out... what do I do so I can stop having to work so hard at spending time with the Lord? Will I ever consistently want to meet with him? I go through months, years, where I LOVE spending time with him, but it always waxes and wanes. Why? He's my creator.

The theology forum grows...

Well we're one shy of 20 registered members how, and I just wanted to update ya'll. If you've been hesitating about signing up, now is the time. Things are plugging along swimmingly. We have posts about good, evil, the Bible, seminaries, etc... (even a post on random top 5 lists by yours truly).

And one particular post I wanted to point out simply because it shows one of the ways a forum trumps a blog in question/answer.


See this post on weather the Bible should be updated.

Come join the discussion.

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. (Jude 22-23)

"And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh." - Jude 22-23

I'm a person who has never really had much doubt about my faith in the Lord. I've seen the Lord do enough amazing things in my life and the lives of others its difficult for me to imagine having much doubt. But I know there are other people who are not at all this way, they struggle through every day wondering if what they believe is true. And having mercy for them is difficult as one who cannot relate.

Snatching others out of the fire? I was there once when a friend of mine left the mormon church to accept Christ (for real). That might have counted except I had little to do with her decision, I was just there for her when she made it. I'd like to think that was partially snatching her out of the fire but its difficult for me to know how well she's walking with the Lord today.

Finally this last section, about hating the garment. . . . All Bill Clinton references aside (which I remember laughing about during that whole debacle), this is something we as believers need to become better about. Showing mercy with fear. That is, having mercy on those who have sinned but hating even the things that have been defiled by their sin.

This verse says mercy for those who doubt. Mercy by snatching those out of the fire, and mercy for sinners (coupled with fear).

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.

I'm terrible at mercy. I have a very difficult time identifying with people and helping them know I'm tuned into their situation, so what do I do? I lay hands on them and pray for them. Even if I cant related I can at least pray, and this is how I best know how to show mercy.

Lord please comfort those who doubt, remind them of the amazing ways you've worked in their lives and those lives around them. Help us to save those who are fallen into the fire, and help us to know how to truly love sinners (of which we are ourselves) and hate their sin.

Keep yourselves in the love of God (Jude 20-21)

"But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life." - Jude 20-21

These are the instructions Jude gives us in response to those who "in the last time" will be causing division and "following their own ungodly passions." But you beloved - you're different.

Use the faith to build yourself up, be praying in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Then I love this, "keep yourselves in the love of God." At first I read this as "keep yourselves in love with God," but that's not what this says. What does keep yourselves in the love of God mean? Do what you can to please Him so he continues loving you? That would seem theologically pretty unsound.

I think basically its saying we need to keep ourselves different from those who are divisive. And wait for the mercy of Jesus that leads to eternal life. This is, as the title of this section says in the ESV, a call to persevere.

What does it look like for you to persevere? How do you understand keeping yourself "in the love of God?"

He has overcome the world, death (John 16:33)

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Today I was contemplating death. Not my own, just the significance of it. How we all die. How none of us can understand that we all die. How we all live in denial. How when someone we love dies we are shocked, genuinely believing it could never happen. How unnatural it seems despite the fact that its one of the few things that everyone has done (okay Biblical exceptions aside).

I've contemplated death before. Here, and Here.

But today I was thinking about how poorly I would handle it if someone I loved passed away. I used to be invincible. Now I have a wife and a daughter for whom I care far too much about. I suppose it's a good thing but it does lead me to fear. The more I love them the more horrifying the thought of their passing away. I suppose I'm really alright with them going after me, or my wife in a very old age, but any other way is unfathomable.

So it's interesting because I decided last night to write on this verse, but in the light of persecution; because I think we think about this verse we imagine it being about persecution. However, it also relates to death. The Lord hasn't just overcome the world in the sense that he has overcome our enemies, he has also overcome the world in death.

He has conquered death. So much so that 1 Corinthians 15:55 can say
"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

Because "Death is swallowed up in victory," when we -- the perishable -- put on the imperishable; when we -- the mortal -- put on the immortal.

Our God truly is awesome. He has overcome this world. He has overcome our adversary.

He has overcome death.

edit - p.s. shortly after writing this I found out Steven Curtis Chapman just lost a child. send a prayer their way.

Blogging for the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24)

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" - Colossians 3:23-24

How about "as for the Lord and not for yourself?" Although as I'm thinking that I'm also realizing the thing I have in mind is something I suppose is for men... as well as for me. Basically my life is like this... I begin to write. I love to write. I write because I want to write and because I want to develop my writing voice. I want to become a better writer. So I start to write. I find I can write things that I hope are pleasing to the Lord, things that edify me and teach me as I try to teach...

I love to write so I keep writing. Pretty soon people are reading what I write. Not tons of people, but nonetheless there are people out there (about 40/day) that read what I write. Suddenly I get a big head. Ohmygosh! People like reading what I write? People like reading what I write! And then all of sudden its not about pleasing God or even doing what I love to do, its about writing for people. Or rather, I write because people read.

This isn't necessarily inherently sinful. It just creeps into my every corner. I create a forum because I think I can benefit from it, I think it can glorify the Lord. Then I start to think about how much more traffic I'm going to get because the forum is attached to my blog.

Lame.

I want to do things as for the Lord. It's just so hard to keep my priorities straight. I want to get my inheritance from Him! Not ya'll (no offense). I want to serve the Lord Christ.

Finally, I want to mention that I think the Lord seems to have an unusual amount of grace for this sort of thing. He seems to allow us to do some things for the wrong reasons as longs as their the right things, and then later brings us around. I'm glad he's gracious.

Leviathan IS a dragon (Job 41)

"Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord?" - Job 41:1

"Will you play with him as with a bird," - v5

"Can you fill his skin with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?  
Lay your hands on him; remember the battle—you will not do it again!" - v7 and 8

"Around his teeth is terror.  His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal." - v14 and 15

"His sneezings flash forth light,
and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
Out of his mouth go flaming torches;
sparks of fire leap forth.  
Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke,
as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.  
His breath kindles coals,
and a flame comes forth from his mouth." - v18-21

"His underparts are like sharp potsherds; he spreads himself like a threshing sledge on the mire." - v30

"On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear." - v33

Lets just start being honest. I love this because I like to think it is a dragon, like a dragon like we think of one. It probably isn't and none of the major scholars think so... but look at these verses!

Party with the poor (Proverbs 16:19)

"It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud." - Proverbs 16:19

Just thinking about my friend's absurdly large flat-screen high definition TV.

Also thinking about a discussion with a guy who was telling me about all the theological stuff he was sorting through recently. Then asking my opinion. My opinion? You have to have money to worry about theology. The poor are much more concerned about meals on their table, and their making it through the next day. They worry about grandma becoming a believer before she starves to death. Not eschatology.

Man those poor know how to party. The older I've gotten, and the more moola I've acquired the less I really party. I'm thinking High School and potato guns and dry ice bombs. Then how that changed into parties at fancy friends houses and halo parties. I'd rather watch my friends get shot with potatoes any day.

Are you dividing spoil with the proud? I'm afraid I just might be the proud, even unwilling to share the spoil.

Just thinking about a meal with an old man in a hole in a wall with a 4.5 foot door that was plenty tall for his malnourished body. I gave him some money when he begged. He asked if he could give me soup. He poured msg in some warm water and called it soup. I sat on a stool and thought about how much I wish I could communicate better with him, while drinking my msg soup. Tried not to think about the cockroaches on his walls. Man that guy knew joy.

Our God is with us, not the ark (Psalm 42:3)

"My tears have been my food day and night,
while they say to me continually, 'Where is your God?'" - Psalm 42:3

I just finished writing a paper on 42/43 for class and ran across how Matthew Henry in his commentary talks about those who are doing the mocking in this verse. They think the psalmist is removed from God because he is removed from the ark physically.

He says something along the lines of how while we are are tied to our Bibles, or our robbed ministers God is not tied to them. He is tied to us.

"We know where our God is, and where to find him, when we know not where his ark is, nor where to find that."

Awesome.

It also reminds me of the Bahá'í faith. I have a friend who was Bahá'í and he told me (because he genuinely believed) they have the ark of the covenant in Haifa, Israel (something of a capital for the Bahá'í faith).

I couldn't help but laugh. Thank the Lord he is with me, not stuck in Haifa with some weird Bahá'ís.

Scripture and my prayer offensive (Acts 8:35 and 1 Tim 4:13)

"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus." Acts 8:35

"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." - 1 Timothy 4:13

Last night I made a note to myself on what to write this morning. It was supposed to say something about the significance of scripture. How once I heard a quote something along the lines of "we read all kinds of books ABOUT the Bible, but we're so unwilling to actually read THE Bible."

I find this to be pretty true. And was going to express my disgust in myself and my willingness to look anywhere but the word of God for answers to most things. I probably spend more time looking for direct answers to questions on Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia than I have my whole life in the Word of God. This is sad.

However, when I was unable to go asleep last night because my lovely daughter decided she would rather scream, I spent a good amount of time in a rocking chair. Then another quote came to mind. One of my leaders in ministry said whenever he is under spiritual attack, or even gets sick, he will go on the offensive big time. That is, he starts to pray his brains out for his leadership and those in ministry around him. Anything he can think of he prays fervently for. That way the enemy knows if attacks this man, he'll receive a serious onslaught in return.

I don't know how well that works in real life but I'm going to go for it. And I realized my struggle to be proficient in the word has led to something of a breakdown of my personal relationship with the Lord. I prayed last night in a way I haven't prayed in FAR too long. I'm going on the offensive. I want to be a warrior forcefully advancing the kingdom through my prayer.

Every night I'm up with my daughter, I'm gonna pray myself sick. I don't know if that will lead directly to her being able sleep better, or even that I should hope it would, but at least I'll be useful for something. Who knows, maybe the Lord will keep my daughter up as I'll become more fruitful in my prayer life.

Sunday Scripture Day (Romans 2:6-11)

"He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality."
- Romans 2:6-11

My God is an awesome God he RULES (Philippians 2:5-8)

"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." - Philippians 2:5-8

I once had a conversation with a friend who is not a believer and he was asking me all kinds of questions about creation. How could God create man? How could know what was going to happen in the future etc... Basically it boiled down to him limiting God to human abilities and attributes. At the end of the conversation I wanted to grab him and shake him and yell, but I mostly just told him sternly,

"Thats because you want to worship a God whose no better than man! Do you want to worship a God who has human emotions? Who gets scared? Who has no power? I don't want to worship a God like that, I don't want to know a God like that, I don't want to even believe a God like that exists because he would be no better than man, and I do not want to, nor am I willing to submit myself in worship to a man."

Okay that was long, but my point is, our God is an AWEsome God, our God is a God who can go anywhere anytime and do anything with as much strength as he wants to. He was no wimp. And when he came to earth and knew what it was to be human he humbled Himself to a gruesome terrible death and gave Himself for us, to us. God I'm glad I worship a God like that.

God thank you that you are a God like that. Thank you that you can, and you did move the heavens and the earth to love me and save me.

How then can man undestand his way? (Proverbs 20:24)

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

"A man's steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?" - Proverbs 20:24

The Lord knows our plans, and he plans our future for good, not evil so that we can have hope, he guides our steps, how can we understand where we're going?

I like the combination of these verses as well as Psalm 37:23 (one of my favorite verses) just for their reminder of the Lord's providence in our lives. I specifically like this proverb because it shows just how clueless we are to many of God's plans. We bumble around with our own plans and going what we think is one specific direction, but how can we understand where we're going? We don't know what's coming and the Lord does.

I wake up this morning and I have a very good idea of what's ahead of me today, I go to school because I have an idea of what I'm supposed to be doing in 10 years. But the truth is I have no understanding of what is ahead. My steps are from the Lord. This is in no way saddening to me but rather, extremely comforting.

(Man+Death) - Christ = Meaningless death - like a beast (Psalm 49:18-20)

"For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed,
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—  
his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish."
- Psalm 49:18-20

Preceding this verse is "Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases" - verse 16. Given verses 18-20 you would think this would read "be not jealous," not be not afraid, but thats not what I want to focus on.

Look at rest of this and specifically the first and last line. Man may count himself blessed, but without understanding he is like the beasts. I don't know why this generation is so intent on making animal equal to man, but then it occurs to me. Without God, while doing "well for yourself" and seeking all the wrong things, man becomes just like an animal, passing away without meaning.

That is, this verse brings to light our weird postmodern view that man is nothing. Animal is no worse than man and man is no worse than animal. If you are seeking after the wind, seeking praise and even counting yourself blessed in your possessions, then this view of life is absolutely accurate.

The man who lives a life not for Christ, dies having had as much meaning as the roadkill under your tire. You hit it and feel bad for a minute, but it's life was basically meaningless. These people will perish and we'll feel bad for a minute, but they will have made little or no impact in this world (even less on eternity), being like the beasts that perish. Ironically filled with pomp.

I feel like I'm saying this over and over again and not making it clear. Pomp, money, power, though looked upon by man as valuable will pass away as a squirrel under a tire. Carrion.

The Vatican: "Likely, there's aliens, also we're gonna celebrate Darwin"

Okay what?

That was my reaction this morning in hearing this on the radio at 4:50am this morning on the way back from dropping my parents off at the airport. The vatican just came out with another bone-headed move, but it's okay because for the most part us Christians are not looked highly upon.

The BBC article begins by saying:
"The Pope's chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out."

Which is almost awesome in itself. Why do they issue statements like this? What is the point?

But then the article goes on to conclude:
"To strengthen its scientific credentials, the Vatican is organising a conference next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin."

Wow, we're not just talking of aliens, we're celebrating Darwin. Way to go Vatican, way to go.

Biblical eye gouging (Judges 16:21 and 2 Kings 25:7)

"And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison." - Judges 16:21

"They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon." - 2 Kings 25:7

I was reading a survey of the Old Testament for class a few weeks back and wrote this down. I find it fascinating that what happened to Samson also happened to the last king of Israel. Pondering the significance of this had led me almost nowhere I just don't know what to make of it.

Maybe the Lord gouged out these leaders eyes to emphasize the finality of their rule as leaders. A sort of, "how can you lead if you must be led by the hand," or "now you will see no future." But these thoughts are mostly just musings with little to back them up. I also find this verse interesting:

"But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, 'On this condition I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.'" - 1 Samuel 11:2

Saul came up and destroyed these Ammonites but this was their condition should Jabesh-gilead choose to make a treaty with them.

Can you make any sense of this gouging of the eyes? I found an interesting blog article about these first two verses and "How sin blinds and binds." But I'm not sure this application answers my question.

Weird Worship Meme...

Alright Peter Kirk tagged for my first meme, so I suppose I should do my best to take part... I don't know if I can pull off 5 of each but I'll see what I can do.

1. Waterdeep - "You are beautiful my sweet sweet song . . . you are my strong melody, you are my perfect ryhme, and I want to sing forever."

A great song... but weird imagery.

2. Keith Greene - Create in me a clean heart-
"Cast me not away
From thy presence oh Lord
Take not thy Holy Spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation
And renew a right spirit within me"

Another song I love but a friend pointed out the Lord will not take his spirit from us, making this a weird thing to pray/sing.

3. Hands down the best is Bobby Bare - Dropkick me Jesus:

Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal-posts of life
End over end, neither left nor to right
Straight through the heart of the righteous up-rights
Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal-posts of life. (follow that link and see the whole lyrics... well worth it)

Okay... thats all I can think of... but dropkick me Jesus has to earn me like 15 points and even me out to the 5 I'm supposed to do.

People I'll tag:

Nathan - Disciplus Scripturae
Martin - The Scroll
Tim - If I were a bell I'd ring
TC - TConnecting
Ben - The Openswitch

(see the original post at David Ker's Blog Lingamish)

My treasures in heaven and on earth (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” - Matthew 6:19-21

I guess I'm surprised I haven't addressed this yet. Maybe I have and I've just forgotten, either way I'm too lazy to do a search for it on my own site, and this one is a doozy so it's fine to address it again. I'll keep this simple.

Treasures I have on earth:

Wife (1 hottie)
Baby girl (1 cutie)
Macbook Pro (1)
iPhone (1)
Soft Couch (2 biggin's)
Awesome antique furniture (6 pieces)
Electric bike (1 piece of junk but I still love it)
Bicycle (1 $7 hunk of awesomeness)
Books (many but few I'll reference later in life)

Treasures I have in heaven (this is difficult):

A God who loves me (1 awesome'n)
Friends (many)
My own brewery/vineyard (ya'll can come by for a drink)
Books (many of which I'll prolly enjoy reading again and again)
Eternal hope/life/joy - no pain (1)
Final grasp of all the things on which I've mused on earth.

I wish I could think of more things to look forward to for eternity, but I suppose its the quality of the treasure not the quantity. What treasures do you have here and there?

Entertaining angels, or being entertained by them (Hebrews 13:1-2)

"Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." - Hebrews 13:1-2

Its a wonder to me why the Lord would send His angels to be entertained by man. But that said, its even more a wonder to me this would be used as a reason to show brotherly love to all. Imagine everyone you're friendly to and hoping maybe they're an angel and somehow blessing an angel is a better thing to do than blessing man.

Either way, I think it more likely that occasionally there have been angels entertaining us, or helping us along. I remember one time as a child traveling through a remote part of Austria we were very very lost and on foot and very tired. No one around spoke English and my father's German wasn't quite good enough to ask for directions. There was no one for several miles as we walked and then randomly on some steps to a very old building was a man sitting outside reading "Jurassic Park."

Not only was it a surprise he was reading an English book but even more so he knew the obscure place we were heading and was more than helpful in getting us there. As we walked away I remember my mother commenting that she'd thought that man was an angel. I was young and I remember being impressed an angel could look so warm and welcoming.

Whether he was or not, he showed us brotherly love, and I hope someday someone might be wondering the same thing about me and some help I'm able to offer.

I also wonder if the Lord and His army of angels has some affinity for Michael Crichton.

Wife goes Roman Catholic - do you freak out?

Okay I just wanted to update my thoughts on this whole wife becoming Roman Catholic deal. I posted briefly here.

And want to say after further reading it was much less one-sided than I originally read. My new view of what went down is available in the forums.

Life by faith, living for the eternal, and making your God proud (Hebrews 11)

"But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." - Hebrews 11:16

I chewed on this for a bit knowing it to be significant but not able to sort out what I thought about it. Barnes' New Testament Notes brought it into a focus a bit for me. These are the people who are "so heavenly minded they're of no earthly good." Or rather, they are forgetting the things of the world and doing what pleases their father because they're looking forward to heaven.

This comes in the midst of the long section in Hebrews on faith, a section I have skipped over many times as it has often seemed monotonous. But reading this yesterday brought what was dull to light for me. The Lord is proud to call those who seek the eternal His children. Are you seeking the eternal? So many things on this earth have become so attractive to me that I often forget the eternal.

I'm reminded the significance of living by faith, living for the eternal, after all those who lived by faith,

"conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection." - verse 33-35.

Wow. I cannot imagine going through this.

Nathan Stitt just introduced me to this horrifying story of a relational split between husband and wife as the wife began to feel called to become a Roman Catholic. I cannot believe it went down as it did.

The link to the story is here.

The link to the forum where Nathan brought it up and at least we will be discussing it (probably not till tomorrow) is here.

I'm off to bed. But chew on that. I read it to my wife. We were both pretty shocked.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." - Hebrews 11:6

I love that he rewards those who seek Him. I cant always pull it together, but I always hope He has grace for those who are earnestly seeking. I want to seek God. To seek Him more than comfort, wisdom, even knowledge, fame, peace, health. All things I've worshipped.

Help me Father, to seek you.

Keeping the Lord's word before I scrutinize it (Luke 11:28)

"But he said, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'" - Luke 11:28

One of my brothers in law is here staying with us for the weekend. He'll be heading home today but he's an interesting guy to talk with as he's in the last semester of his seminary education. He's also lived overseas for a couple of years doing ministry and will likely go back.

I was talking with Him this morning about some of the blogs I read and how many people I read who are educated in the original languages or carry seriously interpretive Bibles to church on Sunday mornings and scrutinize everything the pastors say. I don't mean this in a bad way, being educated and not taking everything your pastor says at face value is not a bad thing. My comment was how I wasn't sure I would want to preach to these people feeling like they would pick apart my every argument.

His response was something along the lines of how it doesn't matter if you can preach to those people or not. There are people out there who are much more interested in the academia than they are in being able to preach and relate Christ. You need to worry yourself with the latter.

I thought this an interesting argument. The field in which I work is filled with several seminary educated people but our discussions are never about theology or scripture or these things at all. Rather we're always discussing what so and so needs to hear before they'll likely turn to the Lord, or about broken relationships, or disfunction in our churches and how we address such issues.

Then I get on a plane and I go to seminary in the summer for a few weeks at a time and I'm surrounded by people who care much more about a specific interpretation of one verse, or how great of professors they've had etc...

The field is just a different world than the academic campus. I guess I'm glad I get the best of both worlds. I just want to make sure I'm hearing the word of the Lord and spending my time keeping it rather than scrutinizing it. Seeking the Lord and loving Him and following His commands needs to have precedence in my life over my head knowledge. Both are important, but the Love and obedience need to come first.

What I don't want to be doing when He returns (Matthew 14:42)

"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:42

How do we take this to heart? I spoke maybe two weeks ago about the difficulty of living like the return of the Christ is imminent. But today I want to talk a bit about what we might be doing when the Lord comes.

Before I was married I tried to quietly hope the Lord wouldn't return before I had a chance to see what sex was like. I know, thats crude, but its true. Now that I have a child I actually sit and wonder about her growing up before the Lord returns. Part of me doesn't want to live like the Lord could return at any time because that seems like something only the wackos believe. The other part of me fears my not being able to see my child grow up. Or more frequently I think about this verse:

"And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!" - Verse 19 of the same chapter.

What if my wife is still nursing our infant? What sort of horrible thing will I have brought on my wife and child if I raise them during the tribulation? My eschatology here is vague which may be part of my fear, I tend to lead towards a-millennialism but these verses seem pretty clear it will be terrible for everyone.

The other thing I think about is what if, on the day the Christ returns, I'm in the middle of a good game of rugby? Or what if he returns just before the Broncos win the superbowl? Can I cope with that sort of thing? These things seriously bother me. How can I be awake? Do I want to be awake? Ideally I will be bored to tears and the Lord will return and it will be a sort of "saved by the bell" situation.

Am I alone in such musings?

Obeying your parents (the in-law get together)

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." - Ephesians 6:1
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord." - Colossians 3:20

I come from a pretty spectacular family in that I genuinely respect my parents and aspire to be quite like my father. I know that few can say this. As I get older I definitely think my parents are weirder and weirder, which is either because I'm getting older and more aware of their idiosyncrasies, or they genuinely are getting weirder.

But one thing I've noticed is just how much harder this is with one's in-laws. I am in the midst of an in-law family reunion, and in my house right now there is:

My wife,
My wife's brother
My wife's sister in law
My wife's other sister in law
My wife's mother
My wife's grandmother
Two nieces
One nephew
And my daughter.

If you'll notice thats 8 women and 3 men (including me). I grew up in a male dominated home and when the estrogen outnumbers the testosterone I don't really know how to cope.

Basically, I'm just arguing that today finally, I can relate to many of you who come from difficult families and are trying to honor your parents/families. This family isn't difficult at all. In fact I really enjoy many of them. But no matter how well you get along with in-laws, their still in-laws, and ten of them is too many.

I'm just taking comfort in the fact that my wife has to go to a family reunion with my family in about 3 weeks and she will be put through the same torture.

I have to assume when Paul said, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." - 1 Timothy 5:23, the reason for the stomach pain and frequent ailments was family.

Theology forum

I don't know if this is an idea that can/will take off with the crowd that comes here but it's something I've been wanting to try for a while. I used to spend a lot of time over at macnn forums and have always wanted to have a place to discuss things of theology.

A blog is useful for a lot of things, and the comments are useful for replying, but when you really want to discuss something a forum is the place to do it.

I want this forum to be useful for discussing the things we otherwise just pass on by. Which is why I have gone ahead and posted something on tongues as the discussion has been circulating a bit.

I also want it to be used for people to ask "hey seen any good movies lately?" I think there is something about a forum which brings people together on the internet better than some other mediums.

That said, I don't know if this will take off, but I'd appreciate it if you head over to

forums.theologer.com

registered, and posted something controversial (at least to get us started). While the link is through my site, I would really like it if ya'll begin to treat it as your own (and maybe we can eventually change the name to something more generic). For example, I would be thrilled if a few of you would be willing to be administrators with me and keep things under raps etc... But mostly I just hope its useful, I would like the community, please come join me.

Thanks eh.

-Roger

The Midas touch er, the Jesus touch (Luke 6:19)

"And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all." - Luke 6:19

At the risk of sounding repetitive I'm going to talk again about just how awesome our savior is. I know I've been touching on this a lot lately, and I think it might be because I'm trying to beat it into my own head. I'm surprised at how I'll look back at some of the blog entries I wrote a year ago and think "that was a really good lesson, I wish I had learned it by now."

The truth is, our savior Jesus is more awesome, more beautiful, bigger, stronger, and far more loving and powerful than we will ever comprehend. This doesn't mean I wont try... This morning this verse struck me. Power was emanating from His body. People pressed in just to touch Him.

Remember King Midas? Everything he touched turned to gold. That would be a cool power until you wanted to hold your child (or even a TV remote). Shel Silverstein wrote a poem about a guy who everything he touched turned to strawberry jello (or something like that).

Imagine if everything you touched was made right? Imagine knowing that person and walking around with him? People would definitely press in and touch him. I've been seeing a chiropractor for back pain for about a month, I'd kill to be able to touch the Lord and see instant healing.

My point here is God is awesome. Everyone He touched -- and more -- everyone who touched Him, was instantly healed. I want to know, walk with, commune with, and love, this powerful God. I'm so happy I serve an all powerful God "for power came out from him," and not some lame person with emotional problems (or whatever other problems we often project on our Lord).

Resist the devil, remember your brotherhood (1 Peter 5:8-9)

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." - 1 Peter 5:8-9

I'm just thinking about how little I'm tuned in to the war going on around me. The Bible is very clear there are battles we cannot see going on all the time. I want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven and the battle has been going on for some time, am I doing my part in prayer for the Kingdom?

Are you doing yours? I have a lot of people praying for me regularly, and I can tell frequently because of the absurd amount of grace the Lord gives me in overwhelming situations. Often I'll hope my prayers are being felt by others, but far too often I'm not really praying for anyone but myself.

We have to resist the devil, pray against him, and pray for our fellow believers who are suffering elsewhere in the world. Think of the many who are still imprisoned for their faith, even if its a generic prayer for their perseverance and God's comfort, it wont fall on deaf ears.

Reasons I wont switch to wordpress

1. I cant edit the CSS without paying extra. I'm a control freak.

2. I cant edit the HTML without paying extra. Again, I'm a control freak.

3. No javascript, I use this constantly for many of my widgets

4. And finally (the real reason) I don't want to pay the $10 for domain mapping. I already own my domain but I'm a cheapskate. If you would prefer I blog on wordpress give me a holler in the comments also you could show support by giving $10 through paypal. Rogermugs@gmail.com is my account. (I need a total of $10 - but don't expect 2 people to give).

The truth is, there are a lot of things I LOVE about blogger, mostly my ability to do whatever I want with my page and make it look however I want. That said, I think I'd give it all up just for the "my comments" part of wordpress. I have another wordpress blog and use the "my comments" section everyday and see the value for my readers. As it stands, my wife wont let me spend the money when I just spent it on blogger. There! The truth is out, and unless you're willing to front the money I'm staying here.

I would love to someday use the wordpress.org software on my own server so I have complete control, but until then....

I know the shameless request for money seems ridiculous but I was shocked when a few months back I asked for donations towards an iPhone and actually received some money. Apparently people have money.

Also if you use blogger and have a preference for me to stay... give me a shout out too (in the comments).

Morpheus was the Simeon of the Matrix (Luke 2:29-32)

 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;  
for my eyes have seen your salvation  
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,  
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” - Luke 2:29-32

I don't know if you were a Matrix fan. Most people loved the first one and then saw the next two because they had to (you know the whole rules of society thing) and then were incredibly disappointed. I was in said category.

That said, the first one really was amazing. Today when reading this passage in Luke, I thought, Simeon was the Morpheus of the Bible. Rather, Morpheus was the Simeon of the Matrix. Morpheus was told he would not die until he met the chosen one. Simeon was told he would not die until he met the Christ. The difference is, Morpheus is excited he's found the chosen one, but Simeon was far more so.

Simeon knows the minute he sees Jesus this is the biggest deal of his life. He says "I may now depart in peace because your word has been fulfilled." He knows Jesus is salvation, he knows Jesus will change everything for the Gentiles and bring glory to Israel. He is so happy from this sight that he is willing and ready to die.

That is awesome. What were you like when you first met Jesus? Especially when He had already died for you?
When I meet Him in the morning I want this attitude. Sheer overwhelming joy at having known the Lord's Christ.

The unreasonable morality of the athiest (Romans 2:14-16)

There is something of a schism in our atheistic friends in the way they live their lives and I've had some interesting conversations with a few of them. The part I still don't understand is how they don't follow their thoughts out to the logical conclusion.

That is... If there is no God, then man is an accident of nature. Making him not a little higher than the angels, but no better than the dirt beneath his feet. If he is no better than dirt than the highest end for man is the seeking of pleasure. Some people have this figured out and they turn to drugs. If you genuinely believe there is no God then drugs are the obvious outturn because it is my understanding there is basically no better feeling on earth than heroin.

They say its thousands of times better than sex. If man is no better than dirt you might as well enjoy a few years of sheer pleasure over 80 or 90 years of miserable striving after money or something similar. Also there is no reason for morality in the least. You are worth nothing more than dirt, thus your neighbor is worth nothing more than dirt and should you take his life there is no reason for guilt (after all it would be the same as crushing an ant or disturbing the mud).

The sheer number of people who don't believe in God doing good and having feelings of right and wrong seem to me a fulfillment of Jeremiah, "I will put my law within them, and I will write it ton their hearts." - Jeremiah 31:33b

And the truth is by living out morality in the midst of a denial of God, they are condemning themselves.

"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." - Romans 2:14-16

And

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." - Romans 1:20

If you're an atheist, what reason is there to pursue anything more than pleasure?

Paul's prayers of vengeance

Again in looking at vengeance in the Bible you will come across these. And they are just a few of the things Paul prayed.

"I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.  If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!" - 1 Corinthians 16:21-22

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." - Galatians 1:8-9

"I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" - Galatians 5:12

"Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds." - 2 Timothy 4:14

One of the arguments against praying the imprecatory Psalms is that they were an Old Testament thing and we cant use it normatively. This is crazy for a number of reasons, not the least of which is these sorts of things are prayed by Paul and several of the imprecatory Psalms are quoted by Jesus.

Also note Paul isn't praying for them to be killed or quit their jobs so he can make more money or something rather, he is praying for the Lord to repay them for their sin. The same God we look to for grace for believers he looks to for judgment on sinners.

We are not ones to judge, but there is nothing wrong with the Lord judging. So why does it feel so awkward to pray for the Lord to do his job?

If you're interested, this was really a fascinating read. While there is a very obvious Calvinist tilt, I am not a Calvinist and I still found it extremely helpful and well argued.

Adams, James E. War Psalms of the Prince of Peace. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1991.

To pray a Psalm of vengeance (Psalm 109)

First read this and look at the judgement called for by the Psalmist for his enemies (and read the rest of 109 if you have the time):

"Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.  
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!  
May his days be few;
may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!  
May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!  
May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!  
Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!  
May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!  
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!  
Let them be before the LORD continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!" - Psalm 109:6-15

The book I'm reading right now is about praying these Psalms, the conclusion being three fold:

1. Jesus was the one who prayed these Psalms
2. We need to pray for thanksgiving from the Lord for people who are saved
3. We also need to pray unbelievers will either be converted, or their plans will lead them to destruction and they will enter into judgement.

The arguments for 1 and 2 are not difficult to understand with some reading. But wrapping my head around praying for the judgement of my unbelieving friends is very difficult for me to wrap my head around.

Have you ever prayed for judgement for unbelievers? For example, look at Brian's recent post about praying for Myanmar (Burma). This book suggests we pray for people to be healed, helped and for the nation to be saved. But we also pray the leaders of the country will turn to the Lord and if they don't they will be brought into most terrible judgement.

We pray for their children to be fatherless. We pray the Lord will cut them off from the memory of the earth.

Can you pray like this? Do you agree with this? I'm still trying to digest a very well written argument with how it rubs me wrong. The books argument that its not always easy, but its Biblical, and we cannot impose our feelings on the Bible, but the Bible on our feelings.

Murder, death, the Holocaust, and our complacency (Psalms 28:4-5, 9)

Every year when Holocaust remembrance day (Yom Hashoah) rolls around (not today), I remember when I was young and lived in Israel. I brought this up back then and received no end of lash back about it, but my opinion has not changed on the matter and given a platform I thought it time to bring it up again. The issue I'm thinking of is abortion.

In the Holocaust an estimated 11 million people died. 6 million Jewish and over 5 million others. In the United States alone in 2005 there were 1.2 million babies aborted(the lowest since 1974). At this rate this makes the US guilty of as many murders every 10 years as the Nazis during the holocaust. To me this is absolutely shameful.

What's even worse is in 2002 worldwide there were an estimated 42 million. In 2002 alone the world killed almost four times as many babies as the Nazis killed throughout the entire holocaust.

The parallels are disturbing. During the Nazi reign people began to look down on Jews as second class citizens. They weren't "really people." Somethings sadly comparable to our modern reasoning for the murder of an unborn child. People in Germany, GOOD people became complacent about what was happening to the Jews choosing to ignore the atrocities and going about their lives as though not much had changed. I am from an America where people are the same way. More and more people are saying "in this election abortion isn't really an issue because nothing can happen to change the laws." We are giving up on the lives of millions of babies every year by giving up that fight.

I find myself relaxed about it, disappointed in parents whom get abortions rather than treating them as I would a murderer. Don't get me wrong, there is forgiveness for people who abort babies as there is forgiveness even for murderers. But how many of us are repentant on behalf of our nation? How many of our friends are repentant of killing their children?

When I brought this up years ago I was attacked with people furious I could even compare the two. But they are so similar, and it is shocking how many people are furious about the deaths back then but complacent about death now, all under the same guise. The Jews weren't people back then, babies are not now.

I truly hope someday the world will look back on abortion with the same jaw-dropping horror with which we look back on the holocaust. 1.2 million children will die this year in the U.S. alone and closer to 40 times that will die this year worldwide.

How complacent are you? When was the last time you prayed for the babies of our nations? When was the last time you prayed for justice against these people who not only allow it to go on but demand it continue? I've been learning about the judgements in the Psalms, have you prayed this:

"Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. . . . Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever." - Psalms 28:4-5, 9

Paul was a badass (Romans 9:3)

"For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." - Romans 9:3

I'm reading a book about the Psalms of imprecation (revenge) and soon I want to share a number of curses which Paul used throughout the New Testament. I was quite fascinated to see them in this book side by side one after the other, it was a little overwhelming. But before I start to raise questions about some of the things Paul did I wanted to discuss the giant that Paul was.

Sometimes in my pride I start to think things like "I'm an awful lot like David, a man after God's own heart," or "Paul had a thorn in HIS flesh, I bet the worst of my sin is nothing compared to what Paul had, and I'm probably just as faithful and love the Lord just as much."

The truth is I could never pray this prayer. I cant fathom loving others enough to wish they could be saved in my place. I cannot fathom eternal damnation, even if it saves another's life. About as high as I can possibly imagine is laying down my life for another, but this is still selfish in the sense that I know where I'm going. Could you ever wish yourself accursed and cut off from Christ so someone else could be saved?

Paul was a badass. More than I think I can even aspire to be.

Recent posts on Ecclesiastes

I've been writing a lot recently on Ecclesiastes and I thought I'd make a little directory for easier access.


Eternal investments, dividing your merchandise (Ecclesiastes 11:2)


Sow, water, reap, you know not which will prosper (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

Go Johnny! Run amuck! - within reason (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10a)

You would have been better off a stillborn (Ecclesiastes 5:19, 6:3)


Rock on (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)


And then this one is kind of a cop out because on Sundays I just post a big chunk of scripture:

Sunday Scripture Day (Ecclesiastes 5:8-20)

Go Johnny! Run amuck! - within reason (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment." - Ecclesiastes 11:9

One of my favorite phrases for a child is "Go Johnny (er insert name here)! Run amuck!" There is definitely something special about childhood and the desires you have as a youth. I didn't have a TV until I was 11 years old and even then it didn't really work and was a 5inch black and white. So I spent most of my days outside with my brother.

Some of the clearest memories I have are things like catching ants and grasshoppers and feeding them to wolf spiders. Pitting red ants against black ants in our back yard. Climbing the trees around my house and shooting home made arrows out of home made bows at my brother. I remember skating down a hill as fast as I could and then jumping onto my knees and wrists because I was fully padded and sliding all the way down the hill. Sledding and skipping and eating and throwing footballs you name it. I had a fantastic childhood. I want my children to have to have the same.

I love this verse because it seems like the Lord recognizing our youthful bliss and simple passions. He even tells us to walk according to our heart and sight. Now you could tell this to a 7 year old, but not to a 17 year old man which is the reason for the last part of the verse. We should chase the desires of our heart, but not unbridled, after all we will face judgement.

Hence my translation, "Go Johnny! Run amuck! (Within reason)."

Sow, water, reap, you know not which will prosper (Eccl 11:6)

"In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good." - Ecclesiastes 11:6

This verse must apply to actual sowing of plant seeds but I also take it here in reference to evangelism. Years ago I used to think of myself as a seed planter but not a reaper. It's difficult for me (as I would imagine it is for most people) to really get out and evangelize. I used sowing broadly as basically an excuse to not have to get to the nitty gritty of the gospel and help people make a decision.

Later I was able to be there for some reaping of seeds I did not plant and it began to change my opinion of who I wanted to be. I wanted to both sow and continue the work.

Sowing broadly is something I'm still trying to learn, and now I try to sow well educated seeds. Seeds planted well enough to have a good chance of reaping. I also try to help people along who have been well planted, or add miracle grow, or whatever you want to do with this analogy.

Are you sowing broadly? Are you continuing the work of evangelism? Many people have to hear the gospel seven or eight times before they finally accept. Keep sowing, keep watering, keep reaping. You do not know which will prosper.

I have asked for her from the Lord (1 Samuel 1:20)

"And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, 'I have asked for him from the LORD.'" - 1 Samuel 1:20

On Thursday morning, a full 26 hours after being induced, my wife finally gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. 8 pounds and 10 ounces. I was completely exhausted and I was just there to watch and help, I cannot imagine how tired my wife must have been.

When my baby girl came on to the scene they set her under a heating lamp in the room and I stood and looked her for several minutes in absolute shock. It is completely beyond me how someone can see something like a new life and not believe in a God. And I'm thrilled with the things which can still bring me to my knees in tears. I cried and cried, held my wife's hand, held my daughter, and cried and cried.

This girl has been an amazing answer to prayer. My wife and I sat down when we decided we wanted to have children and we prayed that we would get pregnant. Four weeks later we took the test and were four weeks along. God answered immediately. We prayed everyday for a smooth pregnancy and she had a smooth pregnancy.

Our friends had all kinds of complications with carrying their children and we had none. My wife was even comfortable most of the time.

In the delivery room four or five things went wrong and I got on the phone and called family and friends and asked them to pray every step of the way and in the end we had a beautiful healthy baby. The Lord answered every prayer almost immediately. At one point they almost sent us home and gave up because my wife had progressed so little. Not five minutes after praying with my parents on the phone her water broke.

These things just kept on happening. Praise the Lord. It is WAY better than I could have imagined being a daddy. And I'm so thankful for the things the Lord has blessed me with. So many blessings I cannot begin to fathom and do not deserve. But thus far, my wife and now my daughter are my favorite. I asked and the Lord provided. I can now understand Hannah's joy when she gave birth to Samuel. We did not name our child Samuel (that would have been awkward for a girl), but praise the Lord, because we have asked for her from the Lord. And he provided.

I'm a daddy

Well, 26 hours after getting to the hospital and starting the induction we finally had the baby this morning. I'll have more details later. Suffice it to say as much as I tried to prepare myself and as much as people have told me how amazing it is, I was blown away by how awesome it is to see my beautiful daughter.

I heard a song today about God's love for his children and was shocked at the new significance it had to me.

I'm also impressed with the things which bring a grown man to his knees....
craziness.